December 2013

Volume 30, Issue 4

Editorial - Need to put children’s oral health first in Israeli debate on water fluoridation

Authors: Michael A. Lennon Helen Whelton Harold D. Sgan-Cohen
doi: 10.1922/CDH_201304Lennon02


A possible dental public health crisis is looming in Israel. How can this be? As many as 70% of the Israeli population are currently supplied with optimally fluoridated water and oral health studies carried out in Israel over the past decade have demonstrated the benefits. For example, a national study of Israeli 12-year olds in 2002 (Zusman et al., 2005) found an average DMFT of 1.39 in fluoridated areas compared with 1.83 in non-fluoridated ones. The national mean DMFT, in this study, was 1.66. Ten years later, in 2011/12, a study (yet unpublished) of 12-year olds by Jerusalem’s Hebrew University-Hadassah Dental School (commissioned and financed by the Israeli Ministry of Health) reported an average national DMFT of 1.17. This decline was predominantly attributed to water fluoridation and the use of fluoride dentifrices. The recent study found a DMFT level of 0.98 among 12-year olds residing in fluoridated cities compared with 1.38 among those residing in non-fluoridated cities (statistically significant). It also showed a marked effect of fluoridation on the inequalities caused by socio-economic position (SEP). Among children residing in non-fluoridated areas, a level of 1.52 DMFT was found among low SEP groups, compared with 1.20 DMFT in higher SEP groups. This gap was almost eliminated in fluoridated areas: 1.01 DMFT among low SEP groups, compared with 0.97 among higher SEP groups. Additionally, the study revealed (in a multiple logistic regression model that considered ethnic group, health behaviour, SEP and other independent variables) that children residing in fluoridated areas had twice the chance of being caries-free than children in non-fluoridated areas (OR=2.11). In comparison with other countries, the study found low levels of dental fluorosis. Yet, despite these fluoridation success stories, this important public health measure could be under threat following the decision of a new Health Minister not to renew regulations that require the national water company, Mekorot, to fluoridate water supplied to all Israeli communities with more than 5,000 people. Some internet-based reports claiming that Israel’s Supreme Court has banned fluoridation are wrong (Jerusalem Post, 2013a). The Court found no basis for doing so – whether in relation to anti-fluoridation allegations about efficacy or adverse effects. The decision not to renew the regulations was political, not judicial, and was taken by the Minister, not the Court.


Other articles in this issue

Article Pages Access
Editorial - Need to put children’s oral health first in Israeli debate on water fluoridation 198-199 Download
Dental Public Health in Action - Stakeholder involvement in designing an oral care training package for care home staff 200-203 Download
Promoting oral health of children through schools – Results from a WHO global survey 2012 204-218 Download
A five-year evaluation of an NHS dental practice-based specialist minor oral surgery service 219-226 Download
Developing a policy guidance for financing dental care in Iran using the RAND Appropriateness Method 227-223 Download
Professional knowledge of accident and emergency doctors on the management of dental injuries 234-240 Download
A qualitative evaluation of a Local Professional Network programme “Baby Teeth DO Matter” 241-248 Download
Aesthetic perceptions regarding fluorosis by children from an area of endemic fluorosis in India 249-253 Download
Relationship between chewing ability and depressive symptoms 254-256 Download
Caries experience and related factors in 4-6 year-olds attending dental clinics in Kinshasa, DR of Congo 257-262 Download
Dentists’ training and willingness to treat adolescents with learning disabilities: the mediating role of social and clinical factors 263-268 Download


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